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The Epic Of Gilgamesh: Overview Essay

1272 words - 6 pages

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the greatest text of Mesopotamia and one of the earliest pieces of world literature. Gilgamesh quest for immortality explores human concerns about death, friendship, nature, civilization, power, violence, travel adventures, homecoming, love and sexuality. (pg. 95) “The Gilgamesh of the epic is an awe-inspiring, sparkling hero, but at first also the epitome of a bad ruler: arrogant, oppressive, and brutal.” (pg.96) Gilgamesh is 2/3 god because of his superhuman strength and endurance; he is 1/3 human because of his mortality. His epitome of a bad ruler will cause the gods to give consequences to his actions.
The gods act very unfairly and impulsively throughout the ...view middle of the document...

Aruru (birth goddess) gets right to work and creates valiant Enkidu. Enkidu whole purpose was again to go against Gilgamesh and therefore, bring peace back to Uruk. To this point gods are looking out for the greater good of the people of Uruk that desperately pleaded for the help from the gods.
The role of the gods is probably a little more complex, involving positive and negative, direct and indirect action. Sometimes the gods intervene only indirectly. For example, rather than disciplining Gilgamesh for his exploitation of the young men and women of Uruk they create a double or counterpart to distract him from his objectionable behavior.
Gods live by their own laws and frequently behave emotionally and irrationally which may lead to great tragedy. Piety is important to the gods, and they expect obedience and flattery whenever possible. Since they are “Gods” they are above all human and can conquer things that many humans will strive for in their lives, and never be able to achieve such as immortality. One could ask the gods for guidance or help and they were often helpful, but angering them is sheer madness—and a character’s reverence for the gods is no guarantee of safety. Thus, the world of The Epic of Gilgamesh differs markedly from that of the Judeo-Christian tradition, in which God is both a partner in a covenant and a stern but loving parent to his people. The gods in the epic maintain that loving parent role to their people until the people upset them in any way.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition covenant promises that people will receive an earthly or heavenly inheritance if they behave well, in the other hand the epic of Gilgamesh gives no reward for behaving well other than not having to deal with angered gods. The Judeo-Christian God represents not just what is most powerful but what is morally best—humans should aspire to imitate him. Humans in this epic aspire to be immortal as the gods and search for immortality, but will never seem to find it.
The Bible comes from the same region as Gilgamesh and shares some of its motifs and stories, such as the serpent as the enemy who deprives human of eternal life and most important, the flood. In both the Bible and Gilgamesh, disobedience to a god or gods brings dire consequences regardless of who you are. Enkidu did not contend Gilgamesh as he was created to do so, in the other hand he became Gilgamesh's best friend. Enkidu joined Gilgamesh in his quest/ journey spiritually and physically. This angered the gods because this meant that now...

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